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Was it inappropriate for a highway patrolman to ask me to sit in his car?
August 12, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

As a female 22 year old citizen, was it out of line for the male highway patrol officer to ask me to sit in the front seat of his vehicle with him while he filled out an official warning?

I live in Oklahoma City, which may or may not be relevant. A couple weeks ago I was driving down the interstate on a Friday night at about 10PM and I was too close to the person in front of me and got pulled over. I was driving my dad's V10 Dodge truck and I am a 22 year old female, which may also be relevant. The Oklahoma Highway Patrolman pulled me over onto the area between the exit and the highway because I was originally in the left lane. He asked for my driver's license and insurance which I complied with, but I couldn't find current insurance in the truck in a timely manner and he said the expired proof of insurance would be fine. He went to his car for a minute then came back and asked me to step out of the truck and go to his car. So, I sat in his front seat while he asked me questions and filled out an official warning for following too closely. I had never been asked to get out of my car before when pulled over, but my first thought was that he was going to test me for alcohol, which I would have complied with since I hadn't been drinking. But he never asked me anything about whether I'd been drinking at all, gave me the ticket, told me not to drink and drive, and went on his way. I told my boyfriend and my mom about the occurrence and they were very concerned and thought that the highway patrolman's actions were borderline sexual harassment. What do you think? Should I have gotten in his car? If not, how would I refuse that to a police officer in the future? Answers from people with actual experience in law enforcement would be greatly appreciated.
posted by selavy to Law & Government (60 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think that is a pretty common procedure. I've never had to do that but I've been with a lot of people who have. Both male and female, younger and older.
posted by Bueller at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first time I ever got a moving violation, I was about your age. The officer did ask me to sit in the front seat while he wrote out my citation. I never felt uncomfortable and don't thin this practice is at all uncommon. In my case, it was about 10 degrees outside so I was happy to be in any car.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2009


It's happened to me and I actually didn't think twice about it (also female and was probably about 25 at the time). The difference is that I had my dad and my aunt in the car so I guess it's not as concerning but it didn't really register that anything might be inappropriate.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2009


It doesn't sound worrisome the way you describe it. The cop just wanted to a) ask you some questions while he filled out the ticket and b) didn't want to stand on the side of the interstate (for safety reasons) while doing so or b') suspected you might try to drive away before he issued the warning. It sure doesn't sound like harassment and I've seen male cops do this with male drivers (though in Canada).
posted by Mitheral at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is nuts. I'd be calling his superior and getting all up in their grill about this. Even if this were totally innocent in his mind, this could be construed as sexual harassment.

Moreover, it's dangerous for an officer to do this, for his safety. You're supposed to keep people at safe distances, to minimize their chances of taking a swing at you, in case you've happened upon someone that really is hiding something. That's why they keep you in your car, stand over your shoulder behind the door post, and if they need to get you out of the car, they often ask you to sit on the curb.

You don't sit next to them all buddy-buddy like.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:50 PM on August 12, 2009


Was there anything in his behavior while you sat there that squicked you out? Seems like to me he was just being nice while also making sure that you didn't run off. That way, neither one of you had to stand there exposed on the side of the road while he wrote the warning. Did you feel weird while it was happening? Sounds like your mother and boyfriend are a little hypersensitive.

Having had a friend that was definitely sexually harassed in a similar situation, I don't think that the average cop on the prowl is all that subtle.
posted by thebrokedown at 2:50 PM on August 12, 2009


A data point: one of the two times I (a male) have been pulled over I was asked to sit in the front seat of the police officer's car while he gave me a warning.
posted by Hermes32 at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2009


Provided that the officer did not say or do anything suggestive, I would forget all about this and be thankful not to have been ticketed.
posted by applemeat at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


chiming in off the top of my head here; if you are in the car with him you aren't looking through someone else's vehicle and arming yourself. he doesn't know you or the person whose vehicle you are driving. this way he knows what you are doing. I would thank him for the warning and go out and be happy I didn't have a ticket in my hands.
posted by busboy789 at 2:55 PM on August 12, 2009


It is not an unusual thing, as others have said, for police officers to ask stopped drivers to sit in the police car while they write up the citation. It is a policy in some communities.

If you got a weird vibe from the officer, that's another story.

And writing to the commissioner or the ombud or the community advocate or whoever and saying "This made me uncomfortable" is a totally valid reaction to the policy, and may encourage them to rethink it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seems like politeness to me. If he was going to mess with you, he would have had you sit on the curb or stand in back of your car with your hands on it. Or worse, in the back of his car.

They may have a policy against letting drivers stay in their cars due to drive-offs, and if that's the case than the passenger seat of the cruiser is the most courteous choice.

Also — was it a hot day? Maybe he thought he was being nice by letting you stay someplace air conditioned (or maybe he just wanted to stay in the air conditioning) rather than outside or in your car, which presumably you'd already shut down.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he didn't do or say anything inappropriate, if he conducted himself in a professional manner, then I think you're just over thinking this. Cops have people sit in their car all the time (that I'll see on tv and driving past at times). Being hit while standing on the side of the road is a serious danger for officers, and I wouldn't see anything close to sexual harassment in what happened, unless he acted in contrary to the above.
posted by Atreides at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd say you need more than just him asking you to sit in the front seat of his car to accuse him of sexual harassment. I also think that he won't have a very hard time justifying his behavior if you do accuse him. All of the reasons given above seem plausible to me.
posted by HiddenInput at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree that this was probably a safety issue...he had questions for you, neither of you are safe standing on the side of a highway.... If he said or did nothing inappropriate I don't see the problem.

But, your question could be asked of the department he works for, this may be SOP for them....
posted by HuronBob at 2:57 PM on August 12, 2009


Happened to me as a 25yoWM many years ago. I was also asked to allow my car to be searched while I sat in the front seat and waited. Whatever...
posted by sagwalla at 2:57 PM on August 12, 2009


It's probably what others have said, he didn't want to stand out on the side of a an exit (which cars typically take too fast) at night, as auto collisions are one of the primary causes of state trooper fatalities (I think . . .)
posted by Think_Long at 2:59 PM on August 12, 2009


I don't see how this is sexual harassment at all. If you're in his car, you can't drive away. Unless he made some lewd suggestion, or tried to touch you inappropriately, in which case you're right to be upset.

Ask your relatives how sitting in a car with someone is borderline sexual harassment, and call your local police station to ask them what normal procedure is.
posted by Solomon at 3:01 PM on August 12, 2009


I consider myself to be a strong feminist. I'm very sensitive to issues of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. I think it's necessary for women to be aware and street-savvy, and necessary for men to consider how their actions may be construed and be well-versed in the niceties of consent and navigating that gray area between neutral, flirtatious, and harassing behavior.

Despite all this, if we live in a world where people are seriously considering calling it sexual harassment when a police officer chooses to conduct his questioning in his patrol car rather than standing out on the highway on a Friday night, then we as a society have reached a stage of gender relations so topsy-turvy and full of fear I think we all need to have a good sit-down and ask what the fuck happened.
posted by schroedinger at 3:03 PM on August 12, 2009 [63 favorites]


I can see both sides of this.

On one hand, the area between the highway and the exit sounds like a dangerous place to be walking around/sitting. He probably didn't want you to stay in your car because you could drive away. So that really only leaves one place.

On the other hand, I would be very uncomfortable sitting in the front seat of a police car with an unsupervised cop. Yes, they are supposed to be "the thin blue line", but they are humans and not robots.

It comes down to this, for me: He went to his car for a minute then came back and asked me to step out of the truck and go to his car.

My rule of thumb is that a request from a cop may be safely questioned or turned down (a demand should be obeyed). If you felt uncomfortable, then in the future politely decline.
posted by muddgirl at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2009


It was not inappropriate, nor was it "borderline" or any other type of sexual harassment.

I have never been asked to sit in the front seat of a police car while I got a warning. I have, however, been locked in the back seat of a police car. I can tell you with no hesitation that you should be glad you got to sit in the front.
posted by The World Famous at 3:07 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I understand your concern and this seems like poor procedure to me (I wouldn't even have pulled over in that location, but that's me.)

That said: please learn the disctinction between "I felt very vulnerable" and "boderline sexual harassment." There is nothing in your narrative that indicates this approached sexual harassment.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:09 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


First of all...thank you so much for all the answers! I had never heard of someone without good reason getting asked to sit in a police officer's car while he wrote a simple traffic ticket, and didn't think much of the experience because he didn't have a weird vibe which I'm usually pretty good about picking up on. But when I mentioned it to my mom she was surprised and thought maybe I should ask someone in law enforcement whether that is typical procedure. After thinking about it, I don't know what I would have done even if I did get a weird vibe, because I kind of freeze when I have to talk to police officers and kind of try to cooperate as much as possible. I didn't know if it would have been okay for me to say that I'd rather stay in my car or outside. And I am happy I didn't get a ticket. I think he saw that there was a semi right next to me which I was trying to get away from and the person in front of me, honestly, was swerving and going from 60 mph to 50 and I hadn't stepped on the brakes fast enough, and I typically drive a Scion tC manual transmission and that huge truck takes more than just stepping off the gas to slow down. I hate tailgaters. I think I should have gotten pulled over.
posted by selavy at 3:10 PM on August 12, 2009


This happened to my male roommate once. He was speeding with all of us in his car around 11:00 at night. When he got pulled over the officer asked him back into his patrol car. We assumed it was because it was lightly raining outside and the officer did not want to ask questions while standing in the rain.

I agree with the above mentioned that as long as he didn't do anything hinting harassment to you then he was probably trying to avoid standing out in the open next to your car. Then invited you back to ask questions when filling out the paperwork, along with possibly try to gauge if you were worthy of a ticket or just a warning.
posted by token-ring at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2009


I've been asked to sit in the front seat of a police cruiser when I was pulled over a few times. I asked and the patrolman said he didn't want to stand on the side of the road. Also a police officer buddy said that they do this sometimes to determine if you are high as fuck, drinking, nervous, etc.

I would think this has less to do with you than it does with the patrolman. If you are really worried about it and think the officer was mentally undressing you, then report him to the proper agencies and relay the exact same story that you posted here.



I have a very solid rant to post here about this askmefi ? but won't, as it would get flagged to all hell by someone who misconstrues my intention.
posted by Gravitus at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2009


It seems to be normal. I was with a friend who received a ticket, and he was asked to sit in the front seat of the car while the ticket was being written (this was in Wisconsin).
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2009


And by "borderline sexual harrassment"...that was the suggestion of my mom. I'm not claiming sexual harassment at this time by any means, I understand it being a very serious issue, and I wasn't really trying to convey my feelings in the question, I just wanted to know whether it was common procedure to ask someone to sit in the front seat for a minor violation, as I don't have very much experience with tickets and law enforcement.
posted by selavy at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2009


And I originally pulled over to the left side of the interstate but he told me to move to the exit.
posted by selavy at 3:15 PM on August 12, 2009


The officer may have also wanted to see if you were acting drunk, without saying that, for fear that if you were drunk, you might have tried to drive off. By asking you to walk to his car, and then asking you a few questions, he would be able to determine whether or not you appeared to be intoxicated. If you had trouble walking to the car, he could do a breathalyzer and keep you from being able to drive away.
posted by markblasco at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2009


Sexual harrassment? How?

I'm a male and I've been asked to sit in the front of the cop's car when ticketed, at least twice. Once it was because I was required to watch him calibrate the radar gun or some crazy crap like that - I was too upset to pay much attention. I think it might have been standard procedure for safety or something but that was 20 years or more ago.

Did he hit on you? Touch you or something? Ask inappropriate questions or ogle you? If not, what are you asking?
posted by rahnefan at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2009


Add me to the list of someone who was asked to sit in the front seat of the police car while receiving a ticket. This was in Virginia about 10 years ago, and I'm male and was at the time in my late 20's.

Like other posters, it's also my understanding that there are safety and procedural reasons why officers might do this, and that unless he made inappropriate comments or the like, there's no reason to think his reasons for having you in the front seat of the cruiser were anything other than professional.
posted by Chanther at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2009


I've been pulled over a few times in Oklahoma, the first of which I was speeding heavily. The officer had me sit in the front seat of his car while he filled out a written warning. I'm a male, he was a male, didn't seem odd.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2009


That doesn't sound weird at all to me. It does, however, sound lucky.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:34 PM on August 12, 2009


Not normal where I'm from (south eastern US) and I've had many an interaction with the boys in blue. Interestingly the only time I know of someone being asked to get in a police car during the write up (without handcuffs) was also a young lady and the cop gave her his phone number along with the warning. But from reading here, it's much more common than I would have thought.

That said - to answer your question you can refuse police requests, not police orders. You can ask for clarification if it sounds like a question, but isn't asked like a question. You could certainly have asked if you could stay in your own car. You are allowed to ask if you can leave. Reading this handy ACLU guide is a good start.
posted by anti social order at 3:39 PM on August 12, 2009


This has happened to me (female). Look, you are on a interstate highway with heavy traffic -- a semi, someone swerving -- and it's at night. You originally pulled over to the left (that's not the correct place to pull over), and he asked you to pull over to the right (which is correct). He was protecting you and your car.

I'm with schroedinger: Something's gone seriously wrong if we start regarding a police officer protecting a citizen and her property from getting injured.
posted by Houstonian at 3:40 PM on August 12, 2009


Okay...please forgive me for including the words "sexual harassment" in the question. That really didn't have much to do with my actual question, as I was mostly concerned with the actions of myself and the highway patrolman being proper procedure. I'm not calling the situation sexual harassment. Maybe my mom was kind of freaking out because she never heard about someone being asked to sit in the front seat of a car for just a ticket, and hearing from multiple people that the procedure may have been a little weird just made me raise my suspicions. I'm not going to call or write the department and claim that I was sexually harassed by this guy, these answers have completely made me feel easier about the whole thing. I really wish I hadn't included the words "sexual harassment" in the original question.

I just talked to my friend who is a police officer in Tulsa, and he said it's pretty common for OHP to ask people to sit in the front seat of their vehicle, which is pretty different than what police officers usually do. The reasons are usually because they don't want to be standing outside and he said this guy probably didn't want to stand right in the middle of the interstate since we weren't even on a shoulder, and he probably wanted to determine my sobriety. See, I was thinking that POs usually don't want people in the car with them because they're worried for their own safety, and I thought HPs would kind of be the same. My friend said that if the OHP asks for me to get out of the car and into his car, I have no right to refuse. But, he suggested that if I don't feel comfortable getting in his car, I can say "I don't feel comfortable getting in your car, can you suggest another place for me to go?" He said I have no reason really to be concerned, that it's normal procedure, and that pretty much answers my question.

Anyway, lesson learned. About using "sexual harassment" so loosely in an online forum and about proper procedure when you get pulled over.
posted by selavy at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2009


On the other hand, I would be very uncomfortable sitting in the front seat of a police car with an unsupervised cop.

This is actually the crux of the behavior, if it wasn't for safety or weather-related reasons; the poster states that they've been pulled over before, and the police officer's computer likely showed this. It is possible that he asked her to join him in the car in order to produce a few moments of fear and discomfort, to hopefully make a bit stronger impression that the poster should try to avoid this sort of thing in the future.

If so, this isn't out of line at all. Subtle intimidation like that is a fairly harmless way to get younger folks to take their transgressions more seriously; think of it as a very VERY light version of parents having their kid locked up overnight by the police to teach 'em a lesson.
posted by davejay at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2009


It is common practice in many states for officers to do this. There are many legitimate reasons police officers ask you to sit in their patrol cars, but I am not going to disclose that here.

Unless the officer specifically did/said something that made you feel uncomfortable, don't worry about it.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2009


A similar thing happened to mid-30s male me a few years back. Pulled over for some semi-bogus reason and the cop asked me to sit in his cruiser.

I assumed it was a combination of an informal and less threatening sobriety test (can you have a normal conversation?) and more general fishing expedition (are you going to act too nervous or not nervous enough or whatever and give me a reason to search your car or call for a dog, and do you have any outstanding warrants?).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2009


I think it's a by-jurisdiction matter of procedure. MA state troopers have never done this to me the couple of times I've been pulled over, nor did a WA trooper (although she did come up on the passenger side of my truck, which struck me as much safer for her). But a highway patrol officer in SD did have me follow him to his car and sit in the front. I assumed it was just to be able to fill out paperwork without having to worry so much that I was going to make a run for it. Also, less time for him standing by the side of the road is presumably safer. It didn't occur to me that it might be a harassment thing, mostly because I'm a middle aged chick and not in the MILF-looking way. I'd assume having folks sit in the car is more common in areas where there aren't a lot of people or cops -- presumably the patrol density for the middle of South Dakota was a whole lot sparser than in the more heavily populated areas where I've usually been pulled over.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:49 PM on August 12, 2009


Although this is standard and I have had it happen before, it gave me pause and made me very uncomfortable.

Maybe if police officers had a better reputation, it wouldn't have made me so uncomfortable.

I don't think there's any need to blame the OP for gender tensions. Perhaps the police who abuse their authority should shoulder the blame for that.
posted by kathrineg at 3:51 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to add a data-point, I am surprised to hear about this at all. I have never heard of this apparently fairly normal procedure.
posted by odinsdream at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2009


I clicked on this question hoping someone from law enforcement might have answered.

Unless I missed it, no one with those credentials replied. (sorry if I missed it! Wait, I just checked, didn't miss a thing....)

I would love it if someone from law enforcement would chime-in and explain, because if this happened to me, I would be freaked.

Just because it happens, doesn't make it "OK." I've been pulled over from time to time.... if an officer asked me to get in their car I'd be alarmed and asking for an explanation. I would totally risk an arrest (backseat) vs. getting in the front.

Disclaimer: I've had mostly excellent experiences with police (except for one.) I appreciate the professionalism I've experience when dealing with law enforcement.

I'm sure protocol differs between jurisdictions... but I am curious to know why this young lady was asked to join the officer in his vehicle.

Thanks!
posted by jbenben at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And also, OP, you could have refused.

Just say, "I don't feel comfortable getting into the car with you. Let's talk here on the side of the road or I'll wait in my car."

If the cop is going to MAKE you get into the car, you're GOING into that car no matter what. If he's asking you, then it's optional.
posted by wfrgms at 4:08 PM on August 12, 2009


I think asking here to see if this is standard procedure, or something unusual, is really helpful as a reality check.

It's very often standard procedure.

That said, people don't have to like "standard procedure," and most police departments have community outreach folks with which you can register your impressions of these procedures.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2009


If so, this isn't out of line at all. Subtle intimidation like that is a fairly harmless way to get younger folks to take their transgressions more seriously; think of it as a very VERY light version of parents having their kid locked up overnight by the police to teach 'em a lesson.

Except that the cop is an authority figure with a gun, and in that case I would be an unarmed civilian. Such "subtle intimidation" is not harmless. It makes people feel mentally and physically vulnerable. I would be 100% aware that I was helpless to fight the cop off. If I had a history of mental, physical, or sexual abuse, I might be triggered by such a situation.

I honestly agree with most of the people that such a request is "normal". But I'd also like to point out that it can also be incredibly scary and that I can see how it would be an unreasonable request. I think that police departments should be aware of that as well.
posted by muddgirl at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2009


Putting you in a confined space makes it easier to smell weed on your clothes or breath which would most likely be used as probable cause to search your vehicle. (And of course alcohol on your breath too.) The ACLU guide touches on this in that they recommend you only roll down your window by a few inches so that the officer can't stick their face in there to get a good whiff.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2009


My late father was a Missouri State Highway Patrolman for thirty-two years. I do not know about other states, but in Missouri an officer can ask you to sit in the front seat of his or her cruiser. You can, however, decline to do so.

In 2003, Trooper Micheal Newton had pulled over a gentleman on I-70. Trooper Newton asked the citizen to join him in his Ford Crown Victoria which the man did. Within a matter of minutes the cruiser was struck from the rear by an inattentive driver behind the wheel of a pickup truck pulling a trailer. Due to the crappy design of the car which Ford to this day denies, the smashed cruiser burst into flames with Trooper Newton and the citizen trapped in the car. Fortunately bystanders were able to pull the passenger out, but Trooper Newton burned to death.

Long story short? If possible, I would remain in my car.

There are many hardworking men and women out on the road and sometimes it's hard to know all of the rules, regulations, and safety procedures they have to follow. The way you describe the encounter it sounds like it was standard procedure.

For every professional, courteous officer there are, unfortunately, jerks and creeps.

In the future, if you feel that an officer acted or spoke to you inappropriately, find out what Troop you are in as most state police/state patrol agencies are divided into Troops. Ask to talk to the commanding officer of the Troop regarding one of his or her officers. Or, if you would rather go to the top, call the agency headquarters (in this case located in Oklahoma City) and ask to talk to someone in the Professional Standards division about the behavior of a trooper. I know that at least in Missouri they take complaints very seriously and will investigate the officer.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless I missed it, no one with those credentials replied. (sorry if I missed it! Wait, I just checked, didn't miss a thing....)

I would love it if someone from law enforcement would chime-in and explain, because if this happened to me, I would be freaked.


I did :)

In my state, we are not allowed to order people out of their cars except for certain reasons. In other states, it is acceptable, and even common procedure, to have people sit with the officer while he/she is writing the ticket/warning.

If you do feel uncomfortable with the request to sit with the officer, you may ask about another location to sit. Depending on state, you may have nowhere else to go.

One thing to keep in mind is that while bad cops do exist, they are rare given the entire police population. I blame the media for the generally negative view of the police (an officer can do 100 good deeds during his shift, and nobody takes notice. If he swears at a citizen, it goes in the paper.). If something did happen that was out of line, there are options for what you can do (citizen complaints, etc.).
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The ACLU guide touches on this in that they recommend you only roll down your window by a few inches so that the officer can't stick their face in there to get a good whiff.

Really? I read it, and I must have missed that part, or maybe you imagined it.
posted by fixedgear at 4:22 PM on August 12, 2009


The ACLU guide touches on this in that they recommend you only roll down your window by a few inches so that the officer can't stick their face in there to get a good whiff.

Yeah, that in itself is a good warning sign to a police officer that you are possibly trying to hide something.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2009


Sorry, I misremembered. That advice was from The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters produced by flexyourrights.org.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2009


[few comments removed - please stick to being constructive or go to metatalk or something? thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 PM on August 12, 2009


I originally pulled over to the left side of the interstate but he told me to move to the exit.

this guy probably didn't want to stand right in the middle of the interstate since we weren't even on a shoulder


If you were on an interstate, and first pulled over to the left, and then to the right but not on the shoulder, I assume you were still in a traffic lane. You were placing yourself, the officer, and other drivers in danger.

For everyone's safety, when an officer wants to pull you over you should signal your intent to move to the right, slow down, keep both hands on the steering wheel to maintain control of your vehicle, and move to the right. You should stop in the shoulder. If the ground conditions, weather conditions, or your sensibilities tell you this is not safe, you should slow and signal your intent (which also acknowledges that you see the officer), and then drive to the nearest exit or stop at the nearest public area (such as a gas station).

Those are the procedures. If you don't follow the procedures that keep you, the officer, and other drivers safe, then the officer has the right (and obligation!) to assist so that everyone remains safe even in the less-desirable situation (such as your car in the flow of traffic, with him standing in middle of an interstate highway).
posted by Houstonian at 5:07 PM on August 12, 2009


I have had this happen to me on the interstate in the middle of the day.
details:
a) I was speeding (70 in 65)
b) my window tint was too dark (which was what i got ticketed for)
c) the state trooper asked me if i had my cruise set to 70, and I owned up to it (wasn't planning on fighting the ticket anyway)

I assumed it was a combination of:
a) he didn't want to be exposed to traffic
b) he wanted to make sure I wasn't drunk/high/smelling like a mobile meth lab
c) he had a tape recorder in his car to capture my confession in case I tried to fight the ticket
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:39 PM on August 12, 2009


I know there have already been a million answers, but I thought I'd add my data point as well. Didn't happen to me, but I was in the car when a friend got pulled over (first day in her first car at that!) and he asked her to sit in his patrol car, while I stayed in her passenger seat. We didn't think anything of it, and (but?) we were two high school girls. This was in Indiana.
posted by theRussian at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2009


It doesn't sound like it would follow standard police procedure but would never be construed as untoward in a court of law. It sounds more risky for the officer because if you turned out to be a psychopath, he would be at a disadvantage. Considering most officers are trained to keep themselves safe, it does sound odd.
posted by JJ86 at 7:16 PM on August 12, 2009


This has obviously been anecdoted to death, but I am a male and I have been asked to sit in the front seat of a police officer's car several times while being ticketed. I thought I would chime in because every time it happened to me, it actually seemed less intimidating on the officer's part to invite me to sit in the cruiser. My impression was always that if I were in real trouble I'd be in the back seat, safely separated from the officer, and the front seat was just a safe, convenient place to talk to me and make the whole process a little more transparent (and yes, probably sniff me out if I were drunk or stoned or freaking out even more than I should be given the situation).
posted by dreadpiratesully at 7:46 PM on August 12, 2009


Anyway, lesson learned. About using "sexual harassment" so loosely in an online forum and about proper procedure when you get pulled over.

selavy, I don't think you need to apologize at all. (Those who took offense, sheesh, moms are often overprotective of their daughters, especially where propriety is concerned.) Anyway, a similar sort of thing happened to me over a burned out tail-light when I was driving down a local highway at about 3 am, on the way home from a friend's house -- stone cold sober, clean driving record, with no traffic danger or weather to provide a decent excuse for this being politeness.

I was skeeved right the fuck out, and sorely wished I'd followed up to find out if it was procedure. I got a big lecture obviously designed to intimidate me. I felt it inappropriate, but obviously on the "you don't have a real complaint" side of things. If it happened again, I'd ask for an alternative seating arrangement.
posted by desuetude at 9:24 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


JJ86 writes "It sounds more risky for the officer because if you turned out to be a psychopath, he would be at a disadvantage. Considering most officers are trained to keep themselves safe, it does sound odd."

Seems to me if the cop has a psychopath pulled over it's a lot safer for said psychopath to be sitting in the car where they are limited to what they can conceal on their person vs. at the wheel of a multi ton vehicle with access to who knows what (shotgun, taser, hand grenade, etc.) hidden under the seat.
posted by Mitheral at 9:46 PM on August 12, 2009


Mitheral, it would be safer if the psycopath were in the rear seats and handcuffed. The front seats offer any individual full access to the squad (shotgun, taser, etc.)- not a very secure or safe situation.
posted by JJ86 at 5:51 AM on August 13, 2009


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